Thursday, October 3, 2013
Book Thoughts - Harvest by Jim Crace
Synopsis from publisher -
A remote English village wakes on the morning after harvest, looking forward to enjoying a hard-earned day of rest and feasting. But two mysterious columns of smoke mar the sky, raising alarm and suspicion.
The first column of smoke comes from the edge of the village land, sent as a signal by newcomers to announce their presence as per regional custom. The second smoke column is even more troubling: it comes from a blaze set in Master Kent's stables. Walter Thirsk, a relative outsider in the village, casts his eye on three local boys and blames their careless tomfoolery. The rest of the villagers, though, close ranks against the strangers rather than accuse one of their own. Two men and a woman are apprehended; their heads are shaved to mark their criminality; and the men are thrown into the stocks for a week. Justice has been served. Or has it?
Meanwhile, another newcomer has been spotted in the village sporting the finer clothes and fashionable beard of a townsman. Mr. Quill, as the villagers name him, observes them closely and takes careful notes about their land, apparently at Master Kent's behest. It is his presence more than any other that will threaten the village's entire way of life.
My thoughts -
So this is my second novel in the Great Book Awards Experiment of 2013, and this one definitely FELT like what I expected a novel that might win a prestigious award should. I'm struggling, however, because I can't decide if I actually liked it.
I definitely respect the immense mastery of the English language that the author possesses - this novel is exquisitely written, and it was truly a pleasure to read these well crafted sentences. If this had not been a library book there would have been SO MUCH underlining going on - since it is, I had to resort to sticky notes, and then I ran out.
"I know I pushed my nose against a tree and was surprised by the ancient sweetness of the bark. I know I stood and studied ants, not guessing yet what antlike labors were awaiting me. I know I picked a flower for my cap. And Then I set my eyes on Cecily and saw a chance to build a future here. I wooed her by working at her elbow in her fields, attending to the hunger of her soil. My labor was an act of love. My unaccustomed muscles grew and ached for her. I had no choice." (p. 48)
While I loved the construction of the novel, the story itself seemed a bit simplistic. The threads of ideas I began to notice in the beginning of the book never quite seemed all to come together, and I was left feeling like I was hoping for a bit more. At the same time, however, I am still trying to dissect whether the author wanted this to be an Important Book, with a message to impart, or whether he was just trying to write a simple story about another time.
Whatever his intention, I'm still thinking about this book, and that certainly means something. If you are a fan of absolutely gorgeous writing, definitely give Harvest a read. If plot is more your thing, then you might want to take a pass.
Finished - 8/28/13
Source- South side library
MPAA rating - PG-13 for violence and adult situations
My rating - ???
10 for writing, 6 for story, so.......8/10